WASHINGTON – Under USDA’s Country of Origin Labeling law, American meatpackers must label where animals contributing to certain meat cuts were born, raised and slaughtered. But according to a recent World Trade Organization ruling, such labels cannot create less favorable treatment of livestock from Canada and Mexico.
Since the WTO’s decision last month, USDA has been study how to comply with both the law and the WTO ruling.
“We do not think that there is a regulatory fix that would allow us to be consistent with the law, which I’ve sworn to uphold, and to satisfy the WTO,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told farm broadcasters Friday in Kansas City. Because of the impasse, Vilsack says there are two possibilities moving forward: “Either our Canadian or Mexican friends have to tell us, more clearly and more specifically, what, if any, variation of this, will work for them, or Congress has to give us different directions that would allow us to comport with the WTO ruling to prevent whatever potential retaliation may occur.”
Vilsack also added that the U.S. Trade Representative’s office is studying the potential to appeal the WTO ruling.
Rod Bain with the U.S. Department of Agriculture contributed to this report. To hear Rod’s USDA Daily Newsline report, click the audio player above this story.